During the years I marketed tie dye and batik clothing at weekend festivals in the Southeast US, I met hundreds of other craft artisans. In the Up and Dyed gallery, 12 other creators of wearable art were represented under my management. Many of those great folks were gifted artists as well as skilled artisans. What is the difference between an artist and an artisan? Can you be both? An artist is a person who creates one item of art work at a time, from their own imagination, without intending to ever make another one exactly the same. The creation is an expression of the artist’s very specific artistic thought. An artisan is a person engaged in the creation of similar art work over and over, usually of their own design and style, but perhaps using some one else’s pattern or instruction. I am both an artist and an artisan.
Many professional craft artists, like me are also artisans in order to make a living at their craft. Way too often, skilled artisans and artists struggle to sell their high quality handmade products. Several factors can contribute to the struggle. One is having an appropriate venue, not just any venue, but a venue in which the products are recognized and valued by patrons and potential patrons. Another of those primary factors is appropriate pricing. Sometimes the products are over priced by local market standards. While far too many craft artisans greatly under price their wares, not earning enough to realize a profit. How to arrive at a fair market retail price for the items you produce by hand? There are numerous considerations when determining a retail price for any item of wearable art.
- Calculate every single penny of your overhead and production costs. Leave nothing out, no matter how trivial it may seem. Arriving at this calculation will be a difficult and hellish task, but once completed will be a valuable tool in the successful pricing of your wares.
- When marketing at consignment shops, consider the percentage paid to the shop part of YOUR overhead, as it helps pay the shop’s overhead.
- Consider travel expenses, costs of shipping for supplies, all expenses related to making your business function.
- Learn to estimate time spent on production of the item by jotting down amount of time spent on each step in the process on a note pad. Add up the time–you may be spending more time than you thought!
- Research the competition. Investigate the price range of similar items in similar venues.
- Be very realistic about workmanship. An enthusiastic beginner’s skill level and production time will be quite different from an experienced master.
- Use a formula to create a fair price list, such as Cost multiplied by a set percentage rate, based on the wholesale cost of the supplies used.
Cost X 3=retail price is a common formula for beginner artisans,
up to Cost X 6=retail price for master artisans and artists.
Art patrons are willing to pay for well made unique items. When they are treated to fair pricing standards, they will buy more art work, from you and from other artists. Educate your patrons in the price difference between a one-of-a-kind item verses multiples of similar items. Value the work you do, and others will, too.
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